Slip Stitch Savvy: 7 Ways to Slip a Stitch

A slipped stitch is a curious little stitch, if you ask me. The first time you do it, you’re likely to think you’ve made a mistake. You’re knitting along and look back a few rows; you notice one of your stitches in a field of stockinet looks a bit longer than the others. You flip your work over and see the yarn running behind that elongated stitch like a little bar. The yarn isn’t running through the stitch, as it should.

You shouldn’t look at it as a mistake, though. As my idol Bob Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” You should look at that slipped stitch as a design element! And once you learn to combine it with other slipped stitches intentionally, you’ve just opened a world of knitting possibilities.

In their book Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting, authors Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest dig deep into this technique. For some of the simpler how-to, let’s take a peek inside this must-have title to learn 7 ways to slip a stitch – then you can pick up the Hoxey Cowl Kit and put your knowledge to work!


Note: A standard slipped stitch is always slipped as if to purl. If the pattern calls for slipping a stitch as if to knit, there will be specific instructions to do so.

Terminology

The abbreviations and terminology of carrying yarn to form a float varies from publication to publication and can become a bit confusing. There’s a difference between stating to “carry yarn on (or along) the back of work” versus “with yarn in back.”

The first statement means that no matter if we are working the right side or a wrong side of the work, we carry the yarn on the wrong side of the project. In other words, if we are working a RS row, then we carry the yarn behind the slipped stitch. If we are on the WS row, we carry the yarn in front of the slipped stitch.

The statement “with yarn in back” describes the yarn always being carried behind the slipped stitch no matter which side we’re working on. So if we’re working the RS row and we’re slipping a stitch “with yarn in back,” the float will be carried on the WS of the project. Consequently, if we’re working a WS row, the float will be carried on the RS of the project.

Slip Stitch Purlwise with Yarn in Back (WYB)

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in back of the stitch.
2 Slip the next stitch to the right needle as if to purl (FIG. 1).
3 Work the next stitch in the pattern.
4 If you’re working a RS row, the float will be carried and visible on the WS of the work. If you’re working a WS row, the float will be carried and visible on the RS of the work.

Slip Stitch Purlwise with Yarn in Front (WYF)

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in front of the stitch.
2 Slip the next stitch to the right needle as if to purl (FIG. 2).
3 Work the next stitch in the pattern.
4 If you’re working a RS row, the float will be carried and visible on the RS of the work. If you’re working a WS row, the float will be carried and visible on the WS of the work.

Slip Stitch Knitwise with Yarn in Back (WYB)

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in back of the stitch.
2 Slip the next stitch to the right needle as if to knit (FIG. 3).
3 Work the next stitch in the pattern.
4 If you’re working a RS row, the float will be carried and visible on the WS of the work. If you’re working a WS row, the float will be carried and visible on the RS of the work.

Slip Stitch Knitwise with Yarn in Front (WYF)

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in front of the stitch.
2 Slip the next stitch to the right needle as if to knit (FIG. 4).
3 Work the next stitch in the pattern.
4 If you’re working a RS row, the float will be carried and visible on the RS of the work. If you’re working a WS row, the float will be carried and visible on the WS of the work.

Slip Stitch with Yarn On (or Over) the Needle (WYON)

The yarn carried on (or over) the needle is worked on both WS and RS the same way.

1 Hold the working yarn in front of the stitch.
2 Insert the right needle into the next stitch from back to front as if to purl.
3 Slip the stitch from the left needle onto the right needle.
4 Bring the yarn over the needle from front to back, placing it next to the slipped stitch (FIG. 5).
5 Work next stitch in the pattern.

Tuck Stitch

In some patterns, the floats from previous rows are picked up and incorporated into a stitch on the next row. This stitch is called a tuck stitch. A tuck stitch can be done knitwise or purlwise. It makes no difference whether the floats are carried in front or in back of the work. It can make a slight difference in the appearance of the fabric when the float is formed by carrying the yarn over the needle.

Knit Tuck Stitch

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in back of the stitch.
2 With the left needle, catch the floats on the back or front of the next elongated stitch, so the floats are on top of the needle in front of the next stitch.
3 Knit the floats together with the next stitch (FIG. 6).
4 Work the next stitch in pattern.

Purl Tuck Stitch

slipped stitch

1 Hold the working yarn in front of the stitch.
2 With the left needle, catch the floats on the back or front of the next elongated stitch, so the floats are on top of the needle in front of the next stitch.
3 Purl the floats together with the next stitch (FIG. 7).
4 Work the next stitch in pattern.

If you’re intrigued by slip stitch and want to try out a great beginner slip-stitch project, check out the Hoxey Cowl. In this project, slip stitch is combined with more than one color yarn of a stranded look without the fuss. Can you guess which one of the 7 slip stitches shown here is used in this cowl? Answer in the comments below!

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books


Turn your slipped stitches into artful knitting!

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